In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers. (Thank you, Google.)
When it comes to my belief in a higher power, I find myself driven by similar feelings.
What I mean is: I look at the world around me, and I can’t help but feel that there is something off.
Like that feeling of eeriness and revulsion that you can’t quite put your finger on when you look at a robot face…
…I can’t help but feel that there is more to existence than what I can understand with my mind and perceive with my five senses.
And that more I call “God.”
Lately, I’ve found that Syd Matter’s “Obstacles” does a good job of conveying that elusive feeling I have (hence why it’s my favorite song):
To me, it’s a song that conveys that 1) all is not as it should be…
Let’s say sunshine for everyone But as far as I can remember We’ve been migratory animals Living under changing weather
…and 2) one day, all will be as it should once again:
Someday we will foresee obstacles Through the blizzard, through the blizzard
And, that’s how I see life:
Our world is not as it should be, and it is my duty to do something about that: It is my duty to learn to “foresee obstacles through the blizzard,” and do what I can to help others to do the same.
Below are some random thoughts I’ve been having lately that I felt like writing down just because they’d been bouncing around in my head and I felt like letting them out.
Lately I feel like I haven’t been taking good care of myself.
I’ve been so focused on trying to be a light for others that I feel like I’ve neglected being a light for myself.
I want to do good for others. I want to change the world for the better. I want to be the best person I can be.
One of the reasons why is because, according to my parents, I almost died as result of my premature birth. I was born 3 months premature.
I see my life as a miracle, and I don’t want to waste it.
But I’m not perfect. To be blunt: I’ve fucked up.
There are times where I’ve become the kind of person I promised myself I never would be, and that has ended relationships I thought would last forever.
I believe there is a God.
Because: There’s a feeling within me that there is more to existence than what I can perceive with my senses. I don’t care if I’m seen as “illogical,” and I don’t care if I’m seen as “close-minded,” but: There is nothing anyone can do or say to persuade me that there is not something more to existence.
I believe that God loves me.
But, at the same time, I believe I am undeserving of God’s love. One of the reasons why I believe I am undeserving is: I struggle with pride. And, if I think to myself I don’t deserve ___, than I won’t be as tempted to think Life owes me ___! I want it! I want it! I want it! like a spoiled brat.
What currently drives me to write is the fact that I think so much of the art by my fellow Christians is awful. For example:
I hate saying that. After all: We (Christians and non-Christians) are just doing what we can to be the best we can. But I’m not going to be dishonest about my feelings.
I know my own writing isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. I know I still have a long way to go before my writing is ready to be seen by the masses. But there has got to be better art made by Christians. And I want to do what I can to make “better art.”
I feel like a lot of my posts come across as pessimistic. And that troubles me. As a Catholic, I know I shouldn’t be like that — I shouldn’t be pessimistic. But if I were to say “I’m not pessimistic” than I would be lying. And I will not lie.
It felt good to let that out.
The song that does the best job of conveying my current mood:
Throughout the movie, Louise is subject to visions of Hannah at various stages of maturation ranging from infant to adolescent. Her memories begin as innocent moments playing with her in the back yard or having a chat at the lake but then they take a turn when Hannah develops cancer, gets sick, and eventually dies. All of these wonderful moments she has with her daughter develop Louise’s rationale for deciding to have her at the end of the film. But why? Why bring Hannah into existence knowing full well that she will become the victim of natural evil (i.e. cancer) and suffer and die at a young age?
…there are certain virtues that display themselves only as a specific response to evil; for example, the soldier that jumps on a grenade or the father who drowns in a flood to save his children. While the soldier and father’s death is tragic and a product of the evil that exists, their sacrifice would not exist were it not for the presence of evil acts. In other words, a world with no evil contains less virtue than a world with evil.
…the world He created, from beginning to end, is designed to show us the immeasurable glory that flourishes in the midst of pain and suffering, to show us what true love can do in the face of evil… ~How ‘Arrival’ Affirms a Christian Worldview
Reading these words last night, I was reminded of Illuvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (The Devil’s) failed rebellion in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion:
…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
Having recently re-played episode 1 of Life is Strange that week, I found myself thinking, too, of Syd Matter’s “Obstacles”:
Let’s say sunshine for everyone But as far as I can remember We’ve been migratory animals Living under changing weather
Someday we will foresee obstacles Through the blizzard, through the blizzard Today we will sell our uniform Live together, live together
What do this movie (Arrival), this book (The Silmarillion), and this song (“Obstacles”) have in common?
1) An awareness that our world is not as it should be — for example: an awareness that there is something profoundly wrong with a person dying so young — and 2) A hope that suffering is not in vain.
According to my Catholic faith:
We lived in a world where there was “sunshine for everyone” (Eden).
But, as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin…
…as far as we can remember we’ve been “migratory animals living under changing weather.” We’ve been cast out of Eden, and have been trying to find our way back ever since.
There will come a day where we will “foresee obstacles through the blizzard” — we will see what it is that prevents us from being our best self — a day where we will cast off our shackles — “sell our uniform” — and “live together.” There will come a day where we will be reunited with the one we love, able to face life with a kind of knowledge that we did not have before. To me, that state of being sounds like Heaven.
On a related note:
6:02 — 9:11:
My point with posting that video is:
Christopher Hitchens recognized that all is not as it should be — that our world is broken, and must be set right.
He recognized that it’s not enough to throw up one’s hands and say “Nothing really matters!”
He recognized that something did matter.
He recognized that injustice, like filth, needs to be washed away.
30 seconds in, and I thought This must be a parody of the trailer. Not the actual trailer.
But I was wrong. This is real.
I don’t know where to start…
The narration is the worst I’ve ever heard.
The dialogue is as subtle as a trainwreck.
The message — atheist converts after a deadly experience — has been done to death. (Pun intended.)
For example: Another Christian movie staring Kevin Sorbo as an atheist who converts: God’s Not Dead (2014):
And before you say “You’re just an atheist liberal,” as the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic, and my political views lean towards conservatism. My point is: I am the intended audience for this movie, andI hate it.
I hate it because it’s mediocre.
If excellence declares the glory of the Lord, as Psalm 19:1 attests, than Let There Be Light is not an angelic host singing, it is nails on a chalkboard.
Movies like Let There Be Light are why I believe that the world doesn’t need more “Christian movies.”
What the world needs, I believe, is just more stories that portray goodness, truth, or beauty no matter where that goodness, truth, or beauty comes from.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8
Because of Philippians 4:8, I have found much to think about in, for example, stories about lesbian lovers…
…friendly forest spirits…
…and killer aliens.
Watching the Let There Be Light trailer after experiencing the peace and beauty of Totoro’s realm…
…I felt like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation (1989):
Here was a movie (Let There Be Light) that promised to show me (a Catholic conservative) what I, on paper, should love.
Hours have passed. I’ve been to work. I’ve been out for Mexican food with my family. And we watched Star Wars: A New Hope when, upon getting home, we saw that it was on TNT. I haven’t seen that movie in years. I used to watch it all the time with my brothers. So many good memories.
Now, sitting at my computer, writing this post after everyone has gone to bed, listening to “Obstacles” by Syd Matters…
…I’ve realized something: A reason why I believe there is a god.
Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I look at all the beauty in the world (man-made and natural), and I think to myself There has got to be more to existence than what I can perceive with my five senses.
Even if I decided to renounce my Catholic faith, a belief in a god is something I couldn’t shake.
I don’t have time travel powers but, listening to Max’s inner monologue, I think That is so me!
“…there has to be a reason… and I have to find out why.”
~ Max Caulfield
Why was I so captivated by this story that made fighting evil against all odds so profound? Why did it instill in me a longing for an adventure of the arduous good? And how does the story make sacrifice so appealing? The Lord of the Rings showed me a world where things seemed more “real” than the world I lived in. Not in a literal way, obviously; in a metaphorical, beyond-the-surface way. The beautiful struggle and self-sacrificial glory permeating The Lord of the Rings struck a chord in my soul and filled me with longing that I couldn’t easily dismiss.
Thank you, everyone, for all of your feedback on my previous post. Your Likes and comments.
Because of you I’m doing better.
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
~ C.S. Lewis
Why God is considering mass murder is irrelevant. It’s that He’s considering it at all that rocks me to my core.
St. Augustine says that “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
What does that say about me, that my deepest desire is be loved by a being who would kill me with fire if it was His will?
God’s actions are the actions of a psychopath.
If someone killed another merely for not doing what they wanted, that person would be considered psychotic. But because it’s God doing the killing, I’m just supposed to accept it.
I could excuse instances of mass-murder in the Bible — like Noah’s Ark — because I see such instances as allegorical. For example: The Ark represents the Church, and the waters of the flood represent the waters of baptism. (Don’t ask me how that works. I’m currently too beat to care.)
I can’t deny it anymore: God is bloodthirsty.
He uses violence to solve His problems, and seemingly doesn’t care that the people He kills in His anger — like at Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) — are going to Hell because of the life they lived. To put it another way: God sees the state of peoples’ souls, and He kills them anyway.
If God is the personification of love — 1 John 4:8 — I have one question: How is that loving?
I will not accept this.
This flies in the face of everything that I, as a Catholic, believe to be true about God.
I refuse to become an atheist. Why? Because: As someone who once considered suicide, I am all too aware of my limits and won’t delude myself into thinking that, when it comes to living, I can make it just fine on my own.
And I won’t abandon my Catholic faith. Why? Because: If my faith is true, than I’ll have a lot to answer for when I stand in front of the pearly gates if I ditch God now.
Regardless of what I’ve just said, the fact is: I don’t know what to believe anymore.
I feel dead inside.
How can it be said that life has meaning if that life can be snuffed out, at any moment, at the whim of the being who is supposed to be love incarnate, with seemingly no regard for the fate of that life’s immortal soul?
The Bible says that we can’t understand God. (Isaiah 55:8)
To that I say: Good.
I don’t want to see what goes on in the head of a murderer.
To end on a semi-uplifting note:
This is my “angry song” — the song I play when I need to vent my frustration at something.
I figure venting is better than bottling up.
The lyrics are fitting:
I’m not sick but I’m not well And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in Hell